03rd Jan2013

Lady Pirates fall to 5-5 with loss to East Duplin

by Lee Wagner

BEAULAVILLE – It matters little what the age of your players are, or what level of experience they have, when you head on the road to face a 9-2 team and you have more turnovers than field-goal attempts it’s a good bet you’re going to climb back on the activity bus with a loss, rather than a win, and that was the unhealthy – and unproductive – reason the Lady Pirates of Topsail High School did not pull an upset on Wednesday night, despite a very good defensive effort.

Freshman Amberly Wolf had seven points and five rebounds, junior Chandler Skipper had six points, and freshman Keri White had five points but it was not enough o overcome 31 turnovers as Topsail fell 26-20 to East Duplin on Wednesday in an East Central 2A Conference girls’ basketball game in Beulaville.

The real shame of the loss for the Lady Pirates (5-5, 0-2) comes from the fact they limited the Lady Panthers (10-2, 3-0) to seven field goals in 43 attempts (16.3%) from the field while forcing East Duplin into 19 miscues. Topsail also was limited to seven field goals but the turnovers stymied any attempt at offensive continuity as they took just 20 shots (7-for-20=35%).

“It was an inability to execute,” Topsail girls’ Coach Jim Clanahan said. “The press didn’t affect us as much as it has in the past but we had too many bad passes and some five-second violations, and if we had been able to execute better in those situations, who knows what might have been.

“From a standpoint of defense they had seven field goals, and most of them came off of turnovers. They came in 9-2 and we held them to 26 points, so the effort was there.”

Topsail’s effort was there but the ball-handling inexperience (Topsail lost its best ball-handler and all-around player when Mindi White broke her wrist early in the year) really hurt as the young Lady Pirate guards had 21 of the 31 turnovers.

Still, the defense is what kept the Topsail girls in the contest as East Duplin had one field goal in the first quarter and none in the second quarter but still held a 9-6 lead at the intermission as they shot 4-for-7 from the charity stripe.

Topsail had one field goal in the first quarter (Skipper) and just two in the second period (Carlie Smith and Wolf) when eight turnovers limited them to four field-goal attempts.

It was the third period that really doomed the Topsail girls as they turned the ball over 12 times and scored just five points in comparison to 11 for the Lady Panthers. East Duplin was 4-for-11 (36.4%) in that quarter thanks to some easy layups off the turnovers and just 3-for-32 (9.4%) the other three periods.

That third quarter allowed the Lady Panthers to overcome a 9-6 halftime deficit, turning it into a 17-14 lead entering the final eight minutes of the contest. A 9-6 advantage over that final period accounted for the final six-point differential.

It was early in the fourth quarter that an official error actually turned the momentum of the game in the Lady Panthers favor, aiding in East Duplin maintaining the lead. A clearly-signaled foul call against an East Duplin player was immediately followed by an equally clear technical foul being called on the Lady Panther after the original play had been whistled dead.

The official signaled a one-and-one for Lady Pirate Keri White, then the possession was about to revert to East Duplin when Clanahan had a discussion with the official, citing it should have been a one-and-one for the foul, a two-shot penalty for the technical, and Lady Pirate possession.

After a subsequent discussion with the other two officials the official calling the play indicated it was a “continuous call” somehow negating any free throws for the technical – even though he unquestionably made two separate calls – before taking possession away from Topsail and erroneously awarding possession to East Duplin.

While one play does not a game make, it certainly had a negative effect (for Topsail) on the game at that point.

Topsail is at home tomorrow (Friday) for a conference game against South Lenoir (7-3, 1-1) before going on the road next Tuesday (Jan. 8) for another conference game at Clinton.

Topsail            2-7-  5-6=20

E. Duplin        4-2-11-9=26

Topsail: Keri White 0 5-7 5, Chandler Skipper 3 0-0 6, Kayla Hyatt 0 0-1 0, Carlie Smithy 1 0-0 2, Amberly Wolf 3 1-8 7. Totals: 7 6-16 20. 3-Point Baskets: None.

East Duplin: Taylor McGowan 1 0-0 2, Brittney Woodward 3 5-6 11, Tenae McKinzie 1 6-8 8, Makayla Byrd 0 1-2 1, Amber Hall 2 0-0 4. Totals: 7 12-16 26. 3-Point Baskets: None.

03rd Jan2013

Lack of intensity sends Pirates to disappointing loss

by Lee Wagner

HAMPSTEAD – Maybe it was the 11 day layoff due to the Christmas and New Year holiday, or maybe it was the long bus ride to Beulaville, or maybe it was some less-that-competent officiating, but the truth is they would both be poor excuses for a loss such as the one the Topsail High School boys’ basketball team suffered last night at East Duplin High School.

Pirates’ Coach Jeff Gainey talked after the game about a lack of intensity and, to some degree, a lack of competitive fire, but this is a senior-laden team and experience says a veteran team with a seven-point lead with 4:15 remaining in regulation should not go on a turnover spree that results in eight fourth-quarter turnovers and an additional two in overtime that result in a four-point loss to what was clearly an inferior basketball team from an overall talent standpoint.

Senior Trevor Savidge tried to help the Pirates avert the defeat with17 points and seven rebounds but it was not enough to overcome 23 turnovers (10 over the combined last 8:15 of the game) as East Duplin defeated Topsail 39-35 in overtime in a low-scoring East Central 2A Conference basketball game in Beulaville.

“Rebounding, free throws, and turnovers, three things we consistently work on in practice and they combined to cost us a game,” Gainey said. “We have an eight-point (actually 7) lead and we throw it away with turnovers. We had no intensity and it seemed we were just happy to be there.”

For most of the game the Topsail defense did a pretty good job, holding the Panthers (3-9, 1-1) to nine field goals in 34 attempts (26.4%) over the first three quarters.

The Pirates (6-4, 0-2) led 8-3 after the first quarter, 16-13 at the intermission, and 27-21 heading into the final eight minutes of the game, thanks in no small part to 13 points from Savidge.

But the Panthers turned up the intensity especially after an inside layup off a rebound by Savidge gave the Pirates a 31-24 lead with 4:14 remaining in regulation. They did that with a combined full-court press, trapping defense that seemed to unnerve the Pirates to some extent, causing bad cross-court passes and walking violations.

East Duplin went on a 9-0 run over the next 2:29 en route to tying the game at 31-31 with 1:56 left on an easy layup off a turnover by Christopher Scarborough before taking a 33-31 lead with 1:46 remaining on a pair of free throws by Montell Stallings (11points) when he was fouled attempting a fast-break layup off another Pirate miscue.

Only a last-second, 17-foot jumper by Jarrin Sullivan with two seconds on the clock thwarted a loss in regulation for the Pirates.

Topsails scored the first two points of overtime on a Savidge basket but that would be all they could muster in the four-minute extra point. The Pirates shot 3-for-10 from the free-throw line in the game, but missed two critical charity tosses in the fourth quarter that could have produced a victory, and two more in the overtime. They were 1-for-6 in the second half.

After Savidge gave his team the two-point lead in the extra period, East Duplin went on a 6-0 run to secure the win, with two of the three baskets easy, virtually uncontested layups off of Pirates’ turnovers.

The Pirates are right back in the conference wars on Friday when they play host to South Lenoir (5-4, 1-0). Topsail travels to Clinton for another conference tilt next Tuesday (Jan. 8).

Topsail            8-  8-11-  6-2=35

E. Duplin        3-10-  8-12-6=39

Topsail: Jeremiah Bland 1 0-2 2, Shannon Washington 1 0-0 2, Jarrin Sullivan 2 0-0 4, Mason Kimmel 0 0-2 0, Devin Williams 1 0-2 2, Tyler Hagan 3 2-2 8, Trevor Savidge 8 1-2 17. Totals: 16 3-10 35. 3-Point Baskets: None.

East Duplin: Christopher Scarborough 2 0-0 4, Malik Baker 4 0-1 10, Montell Stallings 4 3-5 11, Alex Hall 1 3-6 5, Nicholas Williams 3 0-0 7, Florencio Laporte 1 0-0 2. Totals: 15 6-16 39. 3-Point Baskets: Malik Baker 2, Nicholas Williams 1.

31st Dec2012

A-to-Z wishes for New Year of 2013

by Lee Wagner

HAMPSTEAD – As we do every year it’s time to say goodbye, time to say hello, and time to reflect on what was, and what will be as the calendar turns from 2012 to 2013.

There have been so many thrills, spills, and chills provided by this area’s outstanding group of athletes it’s hard to single some out while overlooking others but in keeping with the A-to-Z spirit of things we are offering our wishes for good things in 2013 in various ways. So, here we go:

A is for Angie as in Topsail’s outstanding senior volleyball setter Angie Poage. This dynamic young lady help the Lady Pirates win three straight East Central 2A Conference crowns, and is hoping to continue her volleyball career, along with her education, at the next level. Here’s hoping some college coach realizes this girl is as talented, if not more-so, than your current setter, and that she will give you the proverbial 110% every time she steps on the floor.

B is for Brown, as in Dixon’s Allison Brown. This is another talented, intelligent, and personable young lady who deserves to showcase her talents at the next level, both on the volleyball court and in the classroom.

C is for Carlie Smith, the super-talented Topsail volleyball player who was the cog that made the Lady Pirates’ wheel turn the last four years. Several schools have shown interest in Carlie, and the one who wins the lottery for this young lady is getting something special. Here is our wish for success in whatever you do and whereever you do it, and good luck the rest of the basketball season. Thanks for the memories!

D is for Dixon, as in Pender sophomore fullback Sam Dixon. This young man burst on the scene and quickly established himself as one of the top running backs in the area. Here’s a New Year’s wish for strength, stamina, and success in the rest of your high-school career, and the guidance to not only get the job done on the football field but in the classroom in giving yourself a chance to play at the next level.

E is for Eakins, as in Pender assistant girls’ basketball Coach Laura Eakins. Here’s hoping the Lady Patriots’ girls’ program gets back on track after a couple of really down years, and here’s a thought, a wish, and a suggestion that the transformation begins with Eakins getting a chance to be in charge of the turnaround.

F is for Family Webster, as in Topsail’s Paxton, Alex, and Taylor Webster. Alex and Taylor are excellent soccer players, Alex had great success as the kicker on the Black Hats’ football team, and the lovely and personable Paxton is a Lady Pirates’ cheerleader. Here is our wish for this set of triplets to succeed in whatever is next on their life’s agenda. Great job of parenting, Mom and Dad!

G is for Glenn as in Trask’s Glenn Sellers. Here is our wish for good health and a return to coaching in 2013. Sellers is more than just a football coach, he is a true educator and a gentlemen, and the Titans need your leadership. Get well, coach, and hurry back.

H is for Hagan, as in Topsail’s Tyler. This young man can flat out play the game of basketball, and he is even more adept in the classroom. Tyler has applied to several schools and is awaiting his acceptance letters, but it’s a good bet wherever he lands he will do well. Best wish to a classy young man!

I is for Incoming, as in the group of young student-athletes who will be gracing the fields and courts at the area high schools starting next year. Summer time was spent watching the summer volleyball and softball leagues, and there is some real talent out there. Also had the pleasure of watching the Pender County Middle-School football championship, and there were several players there who are headed to bigger and better things.

J is for Jackie, as in Pender’s irrepressible Jackie Sanabria. Jackie had big footsteps to follow at Pender after the graduation of here multi-talented sister, Jessica, and she has gone on to forge her own identity on the volleyball court and on the softball diamond. Here’s our wish for continued success, and if you need a role model to follow in our life, look no further than your older sister.

K is for Knoerzer’s, as in Meg, Melinda, Aaron, and Bill Knoerzer. If there is another family that defines the true meaning of the words courage, strength, determination, and love more than this group I’m not sure I have met them yet. Here is a sincere wish for a happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year. Good luck on your next steps, Meg and Aaron, and keep fighting Melinda. Our prayers and thoughts are with you.

L is for Lindsay Noble, as in Trask girls’ basketball Coach Lindsay Noble. This hard-working young coach has a group of girls that are exceeding their ability level with hard work and determination, and it is a credit to the one in charge. Here’s a New year’s wish for a couple of six-foot, talented ball-handlers, shooters, and rebounders to move to Titan Town in the near future.

M is for Miranda, as in Dixon senior Miranda Davis. Talk about a talented young lady who has given the Bulldog fan base everything she has in excelling on the volleyball court, the basketball court, and the soccer pitch. God luck the rest of this, your senior season, and a New Year wish that all your dreams come true.

N is for new Topsail coaches Granville Gehris and Jim Clanahan. Gehris is coming to head up the Pirates’ baseball program, and his (South Jersey) pedigree says success will follow him. Clanahan has come to the area from Georgia and has the Lady Pirates playing a solid brand of basketball, especially considering their youth. Good luck and much success in the future.

O is for Orr, as in Trask boys’ basketball Coach Rodney Orr. After stops at Topsail and Pender Orr seems to be settling in at Trask, and the Titan boys are showing signs of benefitting from this excellent coach’s leadership. Here is a New Year wish that this team continues to get better, and that people in Rocky Point soon realize how lucky they are that you are a Titan.

P is for Pittman, as in Pender sophomore Brianna Pittman. Here is a hope that hard work can further bring out the talent that is obviously there. A very good season is now behind you but more will be expected of you in the future as graduation depletes the Lady Patriots’ volleyball roster. Here is our New Year wish that you seize the opportunity with which you are being presented.

Q is for Quate, as in Pender freshman boys’ basketball player Quate McKinzie. In just a short month and one-half it is obvious there is a lot of talent in this young man, and here is our New Year wish for continued success, not only on the court but in the classroom as you prepare for what I perceive to be a very bright future.

R is for Rasheed Brown, as in Trask junior boys’ basketball player Rasheed Brown. Talk about talent, this young man has a boatload of it, and here is a New Year wish that your individual skills continue to get better, that you achieve success in the classroom, and that you realize that whatever Coach Orr is directing you to do is for your own good, and your continued development.

S is for Sicknick, as in Dixon’s Zack Sicknick. A very talented catcher on the baseball diamond, here is a New Year wish that the baseball looks like a floating beach ball every time you step up to the plate, and that the best is yet to come in your senior season, and that college coaches see the talent that is there.

T is for Trexler, as in Dixon volleyball player Caitlin Trexel. Easily the best Libero I saw all year on the volleyball court, here is New Year wish that you get the opportunity to continue your athletic career at the next level, and that whatever you wish for when it comes to your future become a reality.

U is for unsung, as in the unsung heroes that work hard every day in their respective sports but who often do not receive the recognition of their more athletically-gifted teammates. Those players on the bench work just as hard as the ones on the floor or field, so appreciate their efforts and those of the managers, statisticians, and medical first-responders who do everything behind the scenes with no notoriety or little appreciation.

V is for Vicki, as in Topsail senior Vicki Reilly. This young lady exemplifies the true definition of “team player” as she works hard to do the little things that lead to a team’s success. Here is a New Year wish that your work ethic and team spirit wear off on the young players in the Topsail sports’ programs.

W is for White, as in sisters Mindi and Keri White. Life dealt these young ladies a terrific blow a few years ago when they lost their beloved mother but they have shown an amazing amount of resilience as they have excelled athletically and academically. Here is a New Year wish for a quick healing for senior Mindi that leads to a stupendous senior season on the softball diamond and to young freshman Keri as she strives to learn and get better on the volleyball and basketball courts, and on the softball diamond.

X is for Xtra-curricular activities, whether they be athletics, band, cheerleading, academic clubs, or anything else as they help our young people learn and progress into adulthood. More involvement in any of these activities will make you a more well-rounder person than any of the hours you spend playing video games or talking on social media networks.

Y is for year 2013. This past year (2012) has produced what ABC’s Wide World of Sports referred to as, “The thrill of victory, and the agony of defeat,” and here is our New Year wish for the coaches, athletes, and fans in our area that there are a lot more of the former than of the latter.

Z is for Zoe, as in Topsail senior Zoe Howard. After the graduation of Mandi Wall there was a worry that second base would be a problem for the Lady Pirates’ softball team but Howard came in and put that question mark to rest with her outstanding defensive work in the field, and her solid work at the plate. That led to a chance to continue her athletic career in college, and it is a well-deserved opportunity. Don’t overlook that this is a very intelligent young lady who has also excelled in the classroom, and here is our New Year wish for continue success and the achievement of all of your dreams.

That pretty much sums it up. It was a tremendous year, and a lot of fun having the opportunity to attend the games and watch these talented young people perform. We lost the award-winning and well-respected Topsail Voice when it was suddenly and unceremoniously sold, but Ken Clarke opted to keep the county informed with the Topsail News Online, and I – for one- am thankful to Mr. Clarke for the opportunity he has given me, and the faith he has shown in me while inviting me along for the ride.

But the truth is none of this would have been possible without you, our loyal and much-appreciated readers. To put it in simple words – THANK YOU!!!! Without you we’re nothing.

Here is our wish to all of you for a healthy, happy, and prosperous New Year, and our wish for us is that you continue to keep us in your lives.

27th Dec2012

Surf City to host basketball, indoor soccer and
volleyball this winter

by Ken Clarke

SURF CITY – Prime time is here for indoor sports as Surf City Parks & Recreation is expanding its adult sports offerings.  Adult Basketball is returning after a several year absence while Adult Volleyball and Indoor Soccer will be new activities. All adult sports are open to participants 16 years and older and all games will be played in the Community Center Gymnasium.

The open basketball league will play Thursday nights in January and February with games to begin at 6 pm.  Players may register individually or entire teams may enter the league. The cost is $400 for a team or $50 per individual. Practice time will be made available on Thursdays in December.  Pickup basketball will go on hiatus during the game season.

Adult Volleyball is a brand new offering and will be played Monday nights, beginning at 6 pm. The league will be co-ed with two women required on the floor at all times.  Once again, practices will take place in December with matches underway in January and February.  The cost is $300 per team or $40 per individual. Participants may sign up either way.

Indoor Soccer will be played according to 5v5 Futsal rules (court soccer), a game variety popular worldwide, and includes goalkeepers.  All signups are individually ($40) and practices and games will take place Sunday nights, again with practices in December and games running through January and February.  In addition to an Open League a women’s division is also being offered. Indoor pickup soccer for adults will continue on Tuesday nights as a separate program.

“We are glad to build on the interest levels we already have for indoor soccer and basketball,” says Athletics Supervisor Steve Unger. “Our outdoor soccer and softball leagues have been very successful this fall and we think these will be, too.  In the future we are looking to do more with women’s sports and senior sports activities, but this is a start.”

Officials are also being sought to work all three leagues.

All three leagues will conclude with a tournament the first week of March.  On Super Bowl Sunday (February 3) indoor soccer will be played Sunday afternoon.  Registration for all adult sports is available through www.townofsurfcity.com and can also be done on-site through the Community Center office at 201 Community Center Drive.  For more information call Surf City Athletics at (910) 328-4887 or e-mail  athletics@townofsurfcity.com.

23rd Dec2012

Turnovers again doom Lady Pirates in loss

by Contributor

BURGAW – No, it was not an episode of the old television series M.A.S.H, just a girls’ basketball team that appeared have several candidates for beds in the infirmary, and it was a bad time to have key players not quite ready for prime time

Lizzie Perez scored 20 points, and Kayla Hill and Journee Collins each had nine in a balanced-scoring attack as Northside defeated Topsail 50-26 on Friday in an East Central 2A Conference girls’ basketball game in the Topsail High School gymnasium.

Things started off real well for the Lady Pirates (5-4) as freshman Keri White scored had four quick points and Topsail trailed 11-9 after the first quarter. But the turnover bug caught up with the Lady Pirates in the second quarter and the Northside girls took advantage by knocking down10-of-16 field goal attempts to forge a 31-14 lead at halftime.

The Lady Pirates appeared tired throughout as Carlie Smith and Amberly Wolf were fighting flu symptoms, and Chandler Skipper was just getting back to full strength after an illness, and the Lady Pirates simply could not cope with the Northside pressure.

“I thought tonight we didn’t do a very good job of attacking the press,” Topsail Coach Jim Clanahan said. “We made some passes that were very bad, and I thought we were exhausted. Carlie was sick, Amberly was sick, and Chandler is just getting back. The effort was there but the ability to stay with them was not.

“We won’t be able to come in until next Saturday because they’re doing the floor, but we’ll practice Saturday, Monday, and Tuesday, and go from there.”

Once the Lady Monarchs 5-2, 2-0) realized they were in control they kept the pedal to the metal and increased their 17-point halftime lead to 20 (42-22) entering the final eight minutes of the game. An 8-4 advantage over that final quarter produced the final 24-point spread.

The Lady Pirates are off until Jan. 4 when they head out on the road for a conference game at East Duplin. They return home on Friday (Jan. 4) for a conference game against South Lenoir.

Northside       11-20-11-8=50

Topsail              9-  5-  8-4=26

Topsail: Keri White 2 0-0 4, Kealy Wohlgemuth 1 0-0 2, Chandler Skipper 1 0-0 2, Victoria Reilly 3 1-2 7, Carlie Smith 4 1-2 9, Amberly Wolf 1 0-0 2. Totals: 12 2-4 26. 3-Point Baskets: None.

Northside: Charissa Moore 2 0-0 4, Jayne Stokes 1 0-0 2, Erin Bowerman 3 0-2 6, Kayla Hill 4 1-2 9, Ashanti Curry 3 0-3 6, Journee Collins 4 0-0 9, Lizzie Perez 7 0-0 14. Totals: 24 1-7 50. 3-Point Baskets: Journee Collins 1.

23rd Dec2012

Pirates fall short in upset bid against No. 5 Northside

by Contributor

HAMPSTEAD – The old cliché says, “Close only counts in horseshoes,” but when you come as close to defeating the No. 5-ranked 2A team in the state, while it still hurts, and it’s disappointing, you have to leave the gymnasium feeling fairly good about how you played.

Senior Tyler Hagan had 19 points, nine rebounds, four steals, and a pair of blocked shots, and Jeremiah Bland came off the bench to score 14 points but the Pirates felt a little short as Northside-Jacksonville defeated Topsail 51-47 on Friday in the Pirates’ opening game in the East Central 2A Conference at Topsail High School.

The Topsail girls were not as fortunate as turnovers continued to plague the Lady Pirates as they fell 50-26 to their counterparts from Northside.

The Pirates (6-3, 0-1) did what they do best – play defense – and it definitely interrupted the continuity of the Northside offense, but the Monarchs (7-0, 2-0) also played some defense, forcing 18 Topsail turnovers and turning several of them into quick points, especially in the first half.

“It was 100 percent, the effort was there, we just missed some point-blank shots,” Topsail Coach Jeff Gainey said. “They are a good team, but we are too. They’re the No. 5 team in the state and we played them nose-to-nose. If we finished off some of the opportunities we missed, who knows.”

The Pirates had their chances, they shot the ball 27 times in the first half, but they struggled to get the shot to drop, including a couple of shots from close range, shooting just 5-for-27 (18.5%) over the first 16 minutes of the game.

That’s when the Monarchs took advantage, outgunning the Pirates 14-9 in the first period and 10-8 in the subsequent stanza en route to taking a 24-17 lead into the halftime intermission.

Hagan scored seven points in the third period but Topsail could find the bottom of the twine on just two more occasions. Northside kept firing and again made the most of some quick buckets off Pirate turnovers in putting 16 on the board to increase the lead to 40-28 entering the fourth period.

The Pirates actually narrowed the halftime deficit to four at 30-26 on a basket by Trevor Savidge with 1:59 remaining in the quarter, but the Monarchs polished off a 10-2 run with Ben McCarthy hitting a long-distance bomb at the buzzer to get the 12-point lead.

Not only did the Pirates not quit, they threw a blanketing defense over the Northside offense, limiting them to 11 points over that final eight minutes. Bland was the catalyst both offensively and defensively for Topsail in that final quarter, coming up with four steals and 10 of his game-total of 14 points.

The Pirates were down nine at 51-42 with 2:23 left on the clock but scored the last five points of the game to account for the final score.

Topsail is now off for the holidays before resuming conference play at East Duplin on Wednesday (Jan. 3). The Pirates return home on Friday (Jan. 4) for a conference game against South Lenoir.

Northside       14-10-16-11=51

Topsail              9-  8-11-19=47

Topsail: Jeremiah Bland 5 4-8 14, Shannon Washington 1 0-0 2, Matt Gilgo 2 0-0 5, Devin Williams 1 1-3 3, Tyler Hagan 7 3-4 19, Trevor Savidge 2 0-0 4. Totals: 18 8-15 47. 3-Point Baskets: Matt Gilgo 1, Tyler Hagan 2.

Northside: Josh Cabrerra 6 5-7 18, Jamal Brown 2 0-0 5, Jamal Parker 0 1-2 1, Kris Curry 4 2-4 10, Davion Ayabarrena 2 1-3 6, Kory Curry 2 0-0 4, Ben McCarthy 3 0-0 7. Totals: 19 9-16 51. 3-Point Baskets: Josh Cabrerra 1, Jamal Brown 1, Davion Ayabarrena 1, Ben McCarthy 1.

22nd Dec2012

Dicks Sporting Goods sponsors TGS

by Ken Clarke

PENDER COUNTY - Topsail Girls Softball is very excited to announce that Dick’s Sporting Goods has picked our local league to supply with a corporate sponsorship.

This sponsorship consists of both equipment and store funds for equipment.

As you visit Dick’s Sporting Goods store this Christmas season, please take time to let the manager know how much Topsail Girls Softball appreciates this show of support.

Please visit our web site http://www.topsailgirlssoftball.com/ to print your coupon, these are linked to our league.

21st Dec2012

Topsail’s Howard to play softball at Methodist University

by Lee Wagner

HAMPSTEAD – Topsail High School senior Zoe Howard made a decision a couple of years ago in regard to her high-school softball career and, as it turned out, it was definitely the right one.

Howard looked at what was ahead of her on the Lady Pirates’ softball roster and saw that every position was filled – for the most part – for the next two years, especially on the mound where Summer Darnell and Ashlyn Reagan were scheduled to be the top two hurlers.

So Howard decided to spend the first two years on the junior varsity where she would not only play but pitch, and she was on the mound for almost every inning those two seasons.

That made a huge difference in her development and she had the opportunity to pitch for her travel team, the Base Bandits, and the combination of the experienced gained on the Lady Pirates’ junior varsity and the exposure on the mound for the travel team led to Thursday’s events in the Media Center at Topsail.

Before family, friends, teammates, and administrators Howard signed a National Letter of Intent to attend Methodist University to play softball, where she is projected to be a pitcher.

Howard drew interest from Peace College, Chowan, and UNC-Pembroke before settling on Methodist.

“No. 1 I definitely chose Methodist for the academics, said Howard, who will major in Chemistry. “They also have a strong softball program and they recruited me as a pitcher, which is my preferred position.”

That last part comes from the fact Howard played almost the entire season as the Lady Pirates’ starter at second base. That spot, along with first base, was available due to the graduation of Mandi Wall (2B) and Katie Gratale (1B), and the truth is, on this experienced team, they were the question-mark positions.

“I would have liked to pitch more but I understood the situation where they had Summer and Ashlyn, and they needed me at second base. When I didn’t pitch I played outfield a lot and it wasn’t until I played with the Blue Rays (travel team) I started playing in the infield. Knowing Mandi was gone (graduated) I practiced a lot with my dad. I honestly expected to start at second base. I felt I was good enough.

“I hope to get more time on the mound this year with just Summer here and Ashlyn graduated.”

Howard quickly alleviated any fears about second base by hitting .351 with 27 hits in 77 at-bats. Howard scored 16 runs, walked five times, only struck out eight times, had an on-base percentage of .500, and laid down six sacrifice bunts, which showed a willingness to give herself up for the good of the team.

All of that made Howard a valuable cog in the Lady Pirates’ softball machine, and led to her being an All-District selection, as well as a Topsail News All-Area choice, this past year.

“It’s unusual when you have a kid who comes to the varsity level and knows what to do with the ball before she gets it,” said Topsail Assistant Coach Whrens Williams, who had been with the Topsail program going on nine years. “She did a smart thing staying on the junior varsity her first two years, playing every inning of every game, and it showed last year.

“She probably did the best job at second best since that I’ve seen in eight years. Others have made great plays, but not as consistently. She was a major contributor to the success we had last year (27-1), and better than that, she is a great young lady.”


Since Methodist is a NCAA Division III level school there are no athletic scholarships but that is no deterrent to Howard, who is carrying a 4.0 grade-point-average. Howard is the recipient of the school’s President Scholarship, the top academic scholarship awarded.

“I’m still deciding on what I want to do in the future but I’m looking at Exercise Science,” Howard said. “I decided to major in Chemistry because I liked it in high school, and there are a lot more job openings in the science field after I graduate.”

Howard, who moved to Hampstead prior to her seventh-grade year from Richmond (Va.), said Topsail was the right place for her, and it had prepared her academically and athletically for the next level.

“Topsail was a good experience,” Howard said. “I enjoyed being a student at Topsail, the students, teachers, and administrators were very welcoming. Softball had a lot to do with that because when you’re on a team you become a family.”

In prior years, Howard played golf, basketball, danced, and rode horses. Howard tried out for the girls’ basketball team in her sophomore year but her parents didn’t want her to get hurt and ruin any chances she had to continue on in softball, so she became the team’s statistician, and concentrated on softball, and that decision also turned out to be a positive one.

So upon graduation she will head to Methodist and begin the next period in her life at a college that –size-wise – resembles her high school.

“I didn’t want all the lights and cameras of a big school,” Howard said. “When I went up to Methodist for a visit everyone knew everyone, they were all friends, and I liked that. I enjoyed my experience at Topsail, and when I went to Methodist it was the same.”

When asked if she hoped to play other positions when she’s not pitching, Howard responded, “I mentioned other positions and playing second base but the coaches feel I’m predominantly a pitcher, so that’s what I’ll concentrate on.”

Regardless of where she plays, and what she settles on academically in the future, with Howard’s positive attitude and work ethic it’s a good bet she’ll equal or exceed her success at Topsail.

21st Dec2012

Topsail boys, girls sweep Bulldogs

by Lee Wagner

HOLLY RIDGE – It was a case of better late than never for both the boys’ and girls’ basketball teams from Topsail High School when they traveled to Holly Ridge on Wednesday for games against neighboring Dixon.

In the boys’ game it took a 20-6 advantage over the last eight minutes of the game, along with a superlative 33-point effort from senior sharpshooter Tyler Hagan, for Topsail to secure a 60-47 win over Dixon in the boys’ non-conference game.

The girls game followed a strange pattern with the Lady Pirates taking an early lead (13-7) only to see the Lady Bulldogs fight back to lead by four (20-16) at halftime before Topsail outscored their hosts 20-13 in the second half en route to a 37-33 victory.

Boys’ basketball: The Pirates started off strong, jumping out to a 17-9 lead after the opening stanza only to see the Bulldogs (1-9) fight back with a six-point advantage (15-9) in the second quarter to narrow the halftime gap to 26-24.

A 17-14 advantage after halftime led to a 41-40 lead for the home team with eight minutes to play, but that’s when the proverbial roof fell in on Dixon.

“We played well, we controlled the paint and Tyler scored 33 points,” said Pirates’ Assistant Coach Jamie Rhew, who was filling in for the ill (flu) Jeff Gainey. “We moved him (Tyler). Tyler has been a perimeter player but we put him down on the block because we felt it was a better fit. We tried it and it obviously turned out well.

“Trevor (Savidge) played well, he rebounded well, and he had his hands full with their big kid (Trent Hansley). We talked about a carry over for Friday. We used an aggressive man-to-man defense in the fourth quarter and the intensity picked up, and Jeremiah (Bland) came up with a big steal and a dunk on a fast-break layup, and it really picked the team up and we were able to close it out from there.”

Friday brings perennial 2A and East Central 2A Conference power Northside to Hampstead for the Pirates’ opening conference game. Northside is off to a 6-0 start that includes a 1-0 conference mark.

Topsail            17-  9-14-20=60

Dixon                9-15-17-  6=47

Topsail: Tyler Hagan 33, Matt Gilgo 9, Jarrin Sullivan 5, Trevor Savidge 5, Jeremiah Bland 4, Mason Kimmel 4. Totals: 22 10-16 60.

Dixon: Jaylen Mitchell 10, Daniel Page 10, Curtis Trexel 8, Trent Marshburn 8, Matthew Elmore 6, Robbie Wyble 3, Zack Sicknick 2. Totals: 20 2-7 47.

Girls’ basketball: Dixon (3-7) put up a heck of a fight and actually took a 20-17 lead into the break, but the Lady Pirates (5-3) controlled the backboards and turned up the defensive pressure and held the Lady Bulldogs to four points in the third quarter and nine in the second half while putting 20 up on their side of the scoreboard over that last 16 minutes to emerge with the three-point win.

“We’ve been battling the flu bug but the girls played hard,” Topsail Coach Jim Clanahan said. “Chandler (Skipper) hasn’t practiced much at all this past week and Carlie (Smith) wasn’t up to par and we tried to rest her intermittently so it was a good effort from all the girls.

“In the second half our defense picked up, and Keri and Chandler hit their free throws, and that was the difference. Kayla (Hyatt) played the whole game and did a real good job rebounding and passing the ball. I think she had seven or eight assists. We’re still having some trouble against the press but we’re continuing to work on that and I think we’re getting better.”

They had better because the aggressive Lady Monarchs of Northside (5-2, 1-0) come to Hampstead on Friday, and their modus operandi is they’ll pick you up as you come out of the locker room.

Topsail            13-  4-9-11=37

Dixon                7-13-4-  9=33

Topsail: Keri White 12, Chandler Skipper 7, Reagan Holloway 2, Victoria Reilly 2, Kayla Hyatt 6, Carlie Smith 4, Amberly Wolf 4. Totals: 13 11-23 37. 3-Point Baskets: None.

Dixon: Miranda Davis 13, Carly Rochelle 13, Corki Aquafredda 7. Totals: 12 5-19 33. 3-Point Baskets: Miranda Davis 3, Carly Rochelle 1.

19th Dec2012

Titans come up two points short in 56-54 loss to Midway

by Lee Wagner

ROCKY POINT – No one play loses a basketball game no matter when it occurs, and no one player can be blamed for a loss or credited with a win, regardless of what the statistical numbers say.

Basketball is a team game, and throughout the 32 regulation minutes of a high-school game several plays can contribute to the outcome, and – of course – play by any one of a number of individuals on a team can certainly added the joy to the finish.

All that said, Tuesday night at Trask High School one of the Titans’ most reliable players – while enjoying another banner night – missed a pair of free throws late, and you could almost feel the inevitable coming.

Midway’s Justin Thompson hit an approximate 15-foot jumper with three seconds remaining in the game, and a long-range desperation shot at the buzzer fell a few feet short as Midway defeated Trask 56-54 on Tuesday in the Tri-County 1A Conference opener for both teams.

The Titans’ outstanding junior Rasheed Brown had another great game with 27 points, 10 rebounds, a steal, and a block but it was his two missed free throws with 16 seconds left in the game that missed the mark, setting up the game-winner from Thompson.

“I wouldn’t have drawn it up any different at the end of the game but it just didn’t fall for us,” Trask coach Rodney Orr said. “I was proud of the kids. We were down five (actually six at 53-47) with two minutes (2:33) left and came back and tied the score (54-54) at the end but couldn’t get another shot to fall.

“We played a real tough non-conference schedule and it go us ready for conference, and it was a good competitive game, but it’s just one conference loss, that’s what it is.”

The Titans (2-7) started strong with Brown (7 points) and Tyquan Davis (7) leading the way in the opening stanza as they jumped out to a 16-11 lead after the first eight minutes of the game.

Midway (6-3) cut into that lead by one in the second period as the Titans turned the ball over six times. Davis stayed hot with five of Trask’s 10 points in the quarter, and Trask still maintained a 26-22 lead at halftime.

Midway continued to make a dent in the Titans’ lead in the third period as six different Raiders hit the scoring column. Brown (7) and Matt Sherman (4) combined to score 11 of Trask’s 12 points in the stanza as Midway closed to within one at 38-37 entering the final eight minutes of the contest.

That period opened with the Raiders going on a 16-8 run that left them in charge at 53-46 with 2:36 remaining in regulation. Tynaffit Davis hit a free throw and Brown hit a two and three point basket and added a free throw around a single charity toss by Midway’s Tyler Pope as the Titans tied the game at 54-54 with 63 ticks left on the clock.

Both teams had missed opportunities as the game came to a conclusion before Brown missed the two free throws and Thompson supplied the game-winner.

The Titans jump right back into the conference wars tomorrow (Thursday) when Lakewood comes to Titantown.

Midway          11-11-15-19=56

Trask              16-10-12-16=54

Trask: Rasheed Brown 7 9-12 26, Tyquan Davis 5 0-0 12, Tynaffit Davis 1 2-4 4, D. J. Love 0 0-1 0, Matt Sherman 1 2-2 4, Andrew Chomiczewski 1 1-2 3, Alex Hicks 2 1-2 5. Totals: 17 15-23 54. 3-Point Baskets: Rasheed Brown 3, Tyquan Davis 2.

Midway: Justin Thompson 4 1-5 9, Heath Smith 5 1-2 14, Andre Sonkey 2 1-4 5, Jordan Killett 0 2-2 2, Jordan Thompson 1 2-2 4, Michael Hall 1 4-4 6, Tyler Pope 2 1-2 5, Raheem Thomas 4 3-3 11. Totals: 19 15-24 56. 3-Point Baskets: Heath Smith 3.